Nose to tail cooking is all the rage these days, but finding tasty ways to use the odd parts can be a bit tricky. Our ancestors came up with pig trotter recipes because they had to, and now I’m looking for pig trotter recipes because I want to. It’s a different motivation, not built out of hunger, but built out of curiosity.
How to Cook Pig Feet
Cooking pigs feet (pork trotters) can be time-consuming. Since pig feet are in use much of the day, the meat is tough but extremely flavorful. Pigs feet need a long slow cook to break down all the tough connective material, and all that time leaves the meat tender and succulent.
Pig feet are completely cooked when all the joints have bent, and the meat is fall off the bone tender.
Pig Trotter Confit
When we home harvested our own pigs a few years back, we went’ prepared to make use of everything. We preserved as much as we could, but we had an 8-week old baby in tow. Now I’ve gone through and done the research, and we’re prepared to preserve a whole pig without refrigeration through traditional charcuterie. There’s even a traditional preparation for preserving pigs feet: pig trotter confit.
I found a recipe for pork trotter confit in Pure Charcuterie: The Craft and Poetry of Curing Meats at Home. Pure Charcuterie has a number of traditional preparations for odd meaty bits, and is a great read for anyone trying to put up a tasty bit of pork.
A confit is when you take a piece of meat, bone and joints intact, and cook it submerged in fat. When the fat cools, the meat is submerged in solid lard and will keep in a root cellar for extended periods. These days, if you’re going to be curing for storage, curing salt is added as extra protection.
I made pig trotter confit using 2 pounds of cubed pork fat and two pigs feet, along with rosemary, thyme and salt. The whole thing slow cooked in a dutch oven for about 3 hours until all the joints had bent and the meat was fall off the bone tender.
My now 3-year-old daughter loved the crispy pig skin, and picked every last piece of meat out of the pig trotter on her plate.
Braised Pig Feet
Braised pig feet are another traditional preparation. The feet are slow cooked in a low oven in a pan with stock until the meat is melt in your mouth tender. The main downside of this method is that the skin becomes soggy and a bit slimy. You can just eat the meat off the pigs feet, and save the skin for pork rinds. The process of making pork rinds has you first boil the pigskin for 2 hours before drying it in an oven, and then deep frying each skin piece.
If you’ve braised the pig’s feet, you’ve basically boiled the pigskin. Now you’re ready to move onto the next step and make pork rinds. Pork rinds can be used for more than just snacking, and this recipe for gluten-free panko crumbs actually has you make pork rinds and then pulverize them into a paleo panko breading.
To braise pigs feet, place the pig’s foot in a baking pan or cast iron and add a few cups of stock or bone broth. Add salt and herbs, and then cover and bake at 300 or 325 for 2-3 hours until all the joints have bent.
Sweet Black Vinegar Ginger Pig Trotter (Tu Kha Cho)
Traditionally made on the 12th day after a new child arrives in China, Sweet Black Vinegar Ginger Pig Trotter is a very old recipe. What to Cook today has adapted the recipe for Tu Kha Cho for both the instant pot and stovetop.
Click through for the recipe for Sweet Black Ginger Pig Trotter from What to Cook today.
Venezuelan Mondongo (Pig Feet and Tripe Soup)
This traditional Venezuelan soup uses pig feet and beef tripe.
Venezuelan Mondongo from Mommy’s Home Cooking
What have you tried? What’s your favorite way to cook pigs feet? Leave a note in the comments below.